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I Love Things

I started fiddling with my old machine again tonight. I got nowhere, though. Shit. I just spoiled the ending, didn't I?

In Device Manager, my Geforce 5200 graphics card was showing up with a yellow exclamation mark. That means it isn't installed/working correctly. But I noticed something in the comments. It said the following: "" That's a Code 35 to those of you who keep up with Microsoft's error codes. So I tried for a couple of hours to flash the BIOS with the newest version, which turns out to be the latest version I have anyway.

Normally, I wouldn't go flashing the BIOS for fun, but those of you who have heard me whine over they years know that this motherboard has been the bane of my existence for around 6 years now. If I bricked it, I was willing to live with that. It's (almost) useless without a video card.

The process was long and arduous. I don't have a floppy drive except for this old external USB floppy from an iMac. So I used that. I tried disk after disk, and I couldn't seem to get any of them to format correctly (the magnetic film is practically decomposing on these things). Sometimes it would appear to work. I would format it, put the flash utility and image on it, and reboot. Then it would give me a read error. It took around six disks of varying success rates before I got it.

The disk that ended up working was none other than an MS-DOS 5.0 Installation disk. Say what you will about Microsoft now, but in 1991, they (had) manufactured a 3 1/2 inch disk that has now survived 17 years.

First I tried to run the utility from the MS-DOS disk, but the utility wasn't built for SUCH AN OLD VERSION OF DOS. It still baffles me that you have to use the most obsolete technology to do things such as flashing a BIOS, or setting up RAID. So I formatted the disk, stuck on the utilities, and... it didn't work. It was apparently the wrong BIOS version.

I found the new one, while trudging through Soyo's brilliant website. I put it on the floppy and off I went. It booted up, and the utility actually RAN. Or, it appeared to be running. Until it said "File not Found." I had a hunch I needed to type the command followed by the file name, but I didn't want to guess, so I tried the utility name and "/?", which is an old-school command line way of saying "What the fuck are the correct parameters for this command?"

It told me, but the one I needed must've scrolled off the top of the screen. So I tried another command-line treasure, the "|more" suffix. It stops after each screen and prompts you to hit a key. Unfortunately, I received "Bad command or file name" because... I dunno.. maybe this DOS doesn't have that functionality?? Who knows?!

So I hedged my bets and just typed the command followed by the ROM name. And it worked. Flashed the BIOS, I reset the CMOS settings, set up my hard drives, booted into Windows and.


Same result. So I ripped out the card, hooked up the on-board video, and SLOWLY... made... my way... to... the LJ... to tell you all about it.

I'm gonna go play some Contra 4.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 6th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)
MS-DOS 5.0? A USB floppy drive? You've got some strange stuff there. I may have Windows 2.1 on 5-1/4" floppies, from back when floppies were really floppy. Might even run on a 286. I'm afraid I've lost all my 9-track tapes and my card decks, though.

Your computer sounds like my old car. Maybe it's time to put it up on blocks in the back yard.
Aug. 6th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
Which version of DOS did you use? I don't really remember, but I actually had Windows 3.1 on 3-1/2 inch floppies for a while. I got rid of all my 5-1/4's once I no longer had a way to read them.

I think I still have Microsoft Office somewhere, on 3-1/2's. It's 27 disks. Windows itself is only like 8 disks.
Aug. 6th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC)
Actually it's all long-since gone. All I remember about that first Windows is that it was so slow and cumbersome that I stopped using it.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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